“To give away the secret would really spoil the fun.”

§ October 3rd, 2022 § Filed under superman § 9 Comments

So one of my regular customers popped into the store the other to show off a couple of his goodies from his collection. He wasn’t interested in selling, despite my generous offer of a nickel apiece, or even after I doubled it to a dime apiece. However, he did allow me to shoot some pics so that I may share them with you, the dozen or so people who still look at comical blogs.

What he’s brought in were two 1947 Superman record sets, each featuring stories “in song and adventure with the original radio cast!” Here’s the first one:

Followed by, naturally, the second one:

Inside the book was the story in radio play format so that the young’uns could read along (or even perform the story themselves in their unauthorized underground guerrilla theaters), accompanies by illustrations that I think were taken from the comics and not original to the booklet, but I could be wrong:

Each set came with two 7-inch records, that were remarkably colorful (and had the same design for both releases):

Now the cover ballyhoos these records as “unbreakable,” and I did give ’em the slightest bit of a flex to check their give, but I wasn’t about to put someone else’s 75-year-old discs through a full stress test. I believe the records were either a very thin vinyl, or each side was even thinner vinyl, like flexidiscs, glued to maybe a cardboard insert sandwiched between the two? I can’t say for certain. But it was certainly lighter than your standard vinyl disc of about the same size.

No, I didn’t play them on the store record player (again, someone else’s 75-year-old records) but thanks to YouTube, the Land Where Copyright Goes to Die, I can give you a sample of one of these recordings in action:

By the way, they’re not kidding about “in song” – characters do straight up break out into that very thing. Maybe you won’t listen to the whole thing, but at least check out the opening theme. And also maybe stick around to hear the voices of the bad guys “Frog” and Snicker.” Holy cow.

9 Responses to ““To give away the secret would really spoil the fun.””

  • Wayne Allen Sallee says:

    Mike: now that you’ve put that Superman YouTube up, it is only proper to add the YouTube for Metamorpho. I forget how many years it has been since you posted it, but man. Share it with a new generation. Think of the kiddies.

  • Thelonious_Nick says:

    Yeah, that “unbreakable record” claim is really crying out to be tested. I wonder how many of these were destroyed back in the day by kids seeing how well the claim held up?

  • Sean Mageean says:

    I wonder if the artwork was by John Sikela, Win Mortimer, Wayne Boring or who?

    It looks like for 1000 nickels a copy of the record can be secured:

    https://www.discogs.com/release/10130190-Unknown-Artist-Superman-The-Flying-Train

    Have you ever done a Progressive Ruin post on the Fleischer Superman cartoons?

  • Signal Watch says:

    Always amazed how fast this stuff appeared after 1938. I noticed in the WWII film “Reveille with Beverly” (1943) a Superman record appears in the background of a record store. But with the radio show already years on the air, by 1947 I wonder how a singing Superman went over? I know ’78’s are more fragile than 33 rpms, so making something you’d trust a kid to handle makes sense.

  • Snark Shark says:

    It’s “Superman: The Musical”! They beat the Spider-Man musical by over 50 years!

  • Sean Mageean says:

    Some of you might be interested in this link to the Radio Days Theater of the Mind Museum …they have thousands of free old radio shows to download or stream…including “Superhero Academy Radio”

    https://radiodaysmuseum.org/

    https://radiodaysmuseum.org/index.php/superhero-academy-radio

  • Turan, Emissary of the Fly World says:

    Snark Shark, there actually was a Broadway musical, “It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s Superman.” It had a short run in 1966, and then was adapted for television in 1975 (with Lesley Ann Warren as Lois Lane). You can watch that here:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNXbdLDZLKM

  • Turan, Emissary of the Fly World says:

    A passing thought on “It’s a Bird…”: Mark Evanier has written on his blog a time or two about attempts to revive the play. These never get far. He attributes it to two factors: 1) The story is a return to the status quo. It starts with everything established as we know it (Superman is Clark Kent, reporter on the Daily Planet; Lois Lane loves one and scorns the other); there is a temporary upheaval; then, everything is put back to normal. Evanier contrasted this with the two most successful musicals based on comics, “Li’l Abner” and “Annie,” both of which involve substantial changes to the initial situations (Abner marries Daisy Mae, Annie is adopted by Daddy Warbucks). In contrast, there does not seem anything really at stake in “It’s a Bird.” 2) The emphasis is most decidely on the villain (not from the comics) rather than on the hero. This made some sense in the original production, in which Superman was played by an unknown (his name was actually last on the poster), while Max Mencken was played by an established Broadway star (Jack Cassidy). In subsequent productions, however, this makes the play feel lopsided. Viewers are apt to wonder “Where is Superman? We came to see him, not some blustery columnist.”

    After this play, “Spider-Man: Turn on the Dark,” and that Captain America play that never made it past backer’s auditions, one has to wonder if a Broadway musical based on a comic book superhero is really all that good an idea. (Trivia for you: Captain America would have been played by Len Cariou, the original star of Sondheim’s “Sweeney Todd,” more recently seen as Tom Selleck’s father in “Blue Bloods.”)

  • Snark Shark says:

    Turan: “Captain America would have been played by Len Cariou, the original star of Sondheim’s “Sweeney Todd,” more recently seen as Tom Selleck’s father in “Blue Bloods.””

    So, the guy who was ALMOST Captain America played the father of the guy who was ALMOST Indiana Jones?

    Life is wacky.

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